Davon McNeal had just stopped by his aunt’s house to pick up a cell phone charger and ear buds on his way to a cookout. But it proved to be a fatal move.
The 11-year-old was shot in the head on Independence Day, one of three children gunned down around the country over the Fourth of July weekend.
As police offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, Davon’s bereaved family was left wondering how their child could be on his way to a cookout one second and dead the next, reported WITI-TV.
The tragedy unfolded just after 9:30 p.m. on Saturday when a group of five or so men started “shooting up in the area,” Police Chief Peter Newsham told WTOP-TV.
“Five black males were shooting at each other,” Davon’s paternal grandfather, John Ayala, wrote on Facebook in a moving tribute that highlighted his grandson’s dreams of some day playing in the NFL. “How are we going to say Black Lives Matter when you guys are killing each other?”
Officials at Kramer Middle School, which Davon attended and played football, were also reeling.
“We are saddened and heartbroken over the passing of our young king, Davon McNeal,” the school said in a tweeted statement. “Mighty Hornet, We will miss You!!”
Ayala told WTTG-TV that the family had moved out of the neighborhood because of the violence, though other relatives still live there. The boy’s mother was hosting a “stop the violence” cookout. Davon was swinging by his aunt’s house to pick up the cell phone accessories.
No sooner had the boy emerged from the car than gunshots rang out, and everyone dropped to the ground, Ayala told WTTG.
Davon did not get up.
A black sedan was seen fleeing through a nearby alley, WITI reported.
“Everybody’s just saying they’re just tired – tired of the shootings in the community,” Ayala, who also belongs to the D.C. Guardian Angels, told WTTG.
“Everybody’s running around here thinking they’re Uzi-toting, dope-sucking, psychopathic killing machines and they’re just destroying lives. We’re protesting for months, for weeks, saying, ‘Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter.’ Black lives matter, it seems like, only when a police officer shoots a black person. What about all the black-on-black crime that’s happening in the community?”
Davon’s maternal grandfather echoed the agonized question in a tearful video posted on Twitter, asking parents to step up, while the Mayor of D.C., Muriel Bowser, called for an end to the gun violence wracking the city.
“The other pandemic that we have to respond to is just this sense of hopelessness with guns that will kill other kids,” she told WTTG on Monday.
“We’re dealing with a response to a health pandemic, to demonstrations brought on by outrage about an American people killed in the streets, representative of other Americans killed in the streets, and now we see our kids killing each other – over what?” Bowser said. “I guarantee when they find out what this is about, it’s going to be about nothing, it’s going to be about absolute nothing.”